Projecting the Jets 2014 final roster: Defense & Special Teams

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

After four practices and thinking about the Jets for almost all my waking hours over the last five days, here’s what I see of this roster as training camp moves into it’s second phase of practices in Cortland, New York. Next, defense and special teams…

DSC_0208Defensive Line [5]
DE: Muhammad Wilkerson
DE: Sheldon Richardson
DT: Damon Harrison
DT: Kenrick Ellis
DE: Leger Douzable

Expect more of the same from one of the best defensive lines in the league. The team has the luxury of having two excellent backups — in Leger Douzable and Kenrick Ellis — who work heavily in rotational work and provide little drop-off, while giving the starters a breather. TJ Barnes and Tevita Finau have shots at making this team if the roster falls right, but we get the feeling an emphasis will be made on linebackers and corners this year. Look for rookie UDFA Anthony Grady to challenge for a practice squad spot with Barnes and Finau.

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Babin’s contract details

Projecting the Jets 2014 final roster: Offense

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

After four practices and thinking about the Jets for almost all my waking hours over the last five days, here’s what I see of this roster as training camp moves into it’s second phase of practices in Cortland, New York. First up, the offense…

geno-smith2Quarterback [3]
1. Geno Smith
2. Michael Vick
3. Tajh Boyd

With such a crowded roster, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets go to the season with just two quarterbacks and practice squad their third man. Either way, I think the Jets will gamble with their third stringer on Tajh Boyd. Boyd had a rough practice Sunday with some mental lapses and has room for improvement. Simms has been more settled but has made his share of mistakes and has struggled to get the ball out quickly when required. There’s more upside with Boyd for the future.

Offensive Line [8]
LT: D’Brickashaw Ferguson
LG: Brian Winters
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Willie Colon
RT: Breno Giacomini
Swing Guard: Oday Aboushi
Swing Tackle: Ben Ijalana
Backup Center: Dalton Freeman

It’s fascinating to watch this group solidifying before our eyes and almost have too many options. Some of the players the Jets can’t sign will undoubtedly get picked up elsewhere, but the backups are quickly coming into focus.  Will Campbell and Dakota Dozier are on the outside looking in at this group, but to their credit they have shown some excellent progression. Last year the team took nine linemen into the season and didn’t play three of them (Aboushi, Ijalana and Campbell) at any point. With a much more robust roster, that’s not going to be possible. This group might even need to squeeze to seven. D’Brickashaw Ferguson has been spending much of his time before, during and after practices coaching up Ijalana. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by me. Aboushi is getting praise heaped on him from Rex Ryan after having a tough transition in the preseason of 2013. Aboushi might become the team’s extra blocker … but that hasn’t been made clear yet in camp.  The Jets have long needed a backup center and Freeman seems to be their man, he can double as a backup guard.

eric-deckerWide Receivers [7]
1. Eric Decker
2. Jeremy Kerley
3. David Nelson
4. Stephen Hill
5. Jacoby Ford
6. Jalen Saunders
7. Shaq Evans

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calvin-pace

Calvin Pace praises Jets’ defense

The New York Jets are certainly confident in their defense – linebacker Calvin Pace was the latest in a string of Jets players and coaches to claim the Jets as a postseason team (CBS, July 28).

“(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S***, man, we’re the best,” Pace said.

Pace isn’t the only one singing the Jets praises as second-year cornerback Dee Miller told the Daily News on Saturday he’s the best in the league in his position.

“You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year,” he said.

As the Jets defense come off an 11th-overall finish in 2013 – the unit’s worst ranking ever under Ryan – Pace is excited about their potential this year. As he should be with Muhammad Wilkerson and Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richarson back in the defensive line.

“We’re the benchmark when we’re doing well,” said Pace. “I’ll take these guys and Rex and this system any day.”

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

There’s no question that this defensive line is going to be one of if not the best unit in the league.  There are more questions around what sort of secondary this group will wind up being.

Between the solid coverage I saw in camp from linebackers like Demario Davis and the rise in play from Dee Milliner, the back-end of this unit has the potential to be put in a good position to succeed.  What makes it hard for many analysts is that we don’t have the historical evidence with the lack of proven players like Revis and Cromartie in recent years.  This is without question an “under the radar” group.

All eyes on on Dee Milliner, but I’ll be watching Dimitri Patterson.  Patterson is a very physical playmaker and will be a good addition to this defense, but it will come down to his ability to stay healthy.  As Rex said Sunday about Patterson, “sometimes he might be a little too physical for his own body.”

Calvin Pryor with Roger Goodell

Pryor treated for concussion

The Jets’ first-round pick, safety Calvin Pryor, was treated for a concussion. The concussion came during a special team drill on Saturday and he is now subject to league concussion protocols (NY Daily News, July 27).

“Pryor now will go through the protocol, so it is a concussion,” head coach Rex Ryan told reporters. “Apparently it was on a kick when we were doing a kick return drill and he was blocking and the returner kind of got knocked into him and kind of just hit him right. It’s one of those things. One of those heavyweights hit you in the chin, the lights go out I guess.”

Pryor tweeted “I’m fine everyone, no worries.”

He also posted a photo on Instagram late Sunday with the caption “Minor setback… no concussion & I’ll be back in no time.”

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

We are very glad that Pryor is taking a positive approach to his injury and getting back on the field but the fact that he is essentially denying that he has a concussion is a little concerning.  Pryor was nowhere to be seen during the entirety of practice Sunday, a fact that aligns with his injury.

Rex very clearly stated yesterday to the media that Pryor did in fact have a concussion.  From a posturing standpoint, we get why Pryor would want to downplay the situation; Pryor might not have a history of concussions but high speed collisions are effectively a job requirement.

We’re glad that the Jets caught it and are doing the right things.  But it is understandable that seeing him suffer such an injury during the early part of his first practice in pads during camp is a little concerning.

GEICO SportsNite from Jets training camp

Jeane Coakley has the latest from Cortland where she caught up with injured tight end Jace Amaro and assessed the offensive line’s chemistry now that Willie Colon has been activated.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Willie Colon’s presence brings a sense of stability to a group that is most likely still feeling out who their fifth starter will be this season.  With Colon back in the lineup, he can work on communication and chemistry with Breno Giacomini and the Jets can take a longer look at who will best suited to play in the team’s second guard spot.

What I Saw at Training Camp: Defense, Day Four

Sunday is our last day in Cortland.  Despite some soggy weather, here’s what we saw on the defensive side of the ball.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

The Big Nickel

There was no sign of Calvin Pryor today, but the safeties still came up during Rex’s press conference.  Rex was asked about why he likes using three safety sets in his defense and he answered that it’s the versatility that it provides his defense.  “They don’t know who is playing what” said Rex.  According to Rex, safeties provide plus coverage and have larger bodies like linebackers and can be deployed in coverage, run support, or pass rush situations.  In fact, Antonio Allen’s ability to rush the passer is one of the aspects of AA’s game that Ryan likes best. With  deep group of corners, it is hard to tell how much the Jets will use their Big Nickel package, but it’s good to know that they are right there should Rex need them.

As for Pryor, Rex didn’t seem that this concussion for Pryor was a concerning start for a player who is known as a big hitter and who the team hopes to make a cornerstone of this defense in coming years.  Rex indicated that this was more of a random injury and that Pryor’s lack of history with concussions makes him hope this was just and unfortunate event.

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